Emilio Torres Manzanera Emilio Torres Manzanera - 3 months ago 32
R Question

dplyr: How to use group_by inside a function?

I want to use use the

dplyr::group_by
function inside another function, but I do not know how to pass the arguments to this function.

Can someone provide a working example?

library(dplyr)
data(iris)
iris %.% group_by(Species) %.% summarise(n = n()) #
## Source: local data frame [3 x 2]
## Species n
## 1 virginica 50
## 2 versicolor 50
## 3 setosa 50

mytable0 <- function(x, ...) x %.% group_by(...) %.% summarise(n = n())
mytable0(iris, "Species") # OK
## Source: local data frame [3 x 2]
## Species n
## 1 virginica 50
## 2 versicolor 50
## 3 setosa 50

mytable1 <- function(x, key) x %.% group_by(as.name(key)) %.% summarise(n = n())
mytable1(iris, "Species") # Wrong!
# Error: unsupported type for column 'as.name(key)' (SYMSXP)

mytable2 <- function(x, key) x %.% group_by(key) %.% summarise(n = n())
mytable2(iris, "Species") # Wrong!
# Error: index out of bounds

Answer

For programming, group_by_ is the counterpart to group_by:

library(dplyr)

mytable <- function(x, ...) x %>% group_by_(...) %>% summarise(n = n())
mytable(iris, "Species")
# or iris %>% mytable("Species")

which gives:

     Species  n
1     setosa 50
2 versicolor 50
3  virginica 50

Update At the time this was written dplyr used %.% which is what was originally used above but now %>% is favored so have changed above to that to keep this relevant.

Update 2 regroup is now deprecated, use group_by_ instead.

Update 3 group_by_(list(...)) now becomes group_by_(...) in new version of dplyr as per Roberto's comment.

Update 4 Added minor variation suggested in comments.